After Protesting Against Islamic Blasphemy, Indian Muslim Homes Demolished

Under orders from Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, authorities in Uttar Pradesh, India, used bulldozers to destroy the homes of people accused of being involved in last week’s protests.

Protests erupted all over India due to the BJP leader Nupur Sharma's recent remarks about the Prophet Muhammad and his wife, Aisha. The Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, has since suspended her in an effort to suppress the international outrage, issuing a rare statement saying it "strongly denounces insults to religious figures. The Bharatiya Janata Party respects all religions. The BJP strongly denounces insults of any religious personalities of any religion."

Street protests by angry Muslim mobs have been going on for days; in some cases, violent riots have erupted. In Ranchi, the demonstrators pelted stones and torched vehicles. The police fatally shot two youths.

Amnesty International had condemned the authorities accusing them of "the excessive use of force in response to large-scale protests in the country." The organization said in a tweet, "The Government of India is selectively and viciously cracking down on Muslims who dare to speak up and peacefully express their dissent against the discrimination faced by them."

Last weekend, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu priest turned politician, called on state authorities to demolish “illegal buildings” owned by people linked to Friday's protests, which have seen more than 300 people arrested. 

Prominent BJP critic and student activist Afreen Fatima and her family were affected. Her two-story house in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad) was bulldozed, and her father, Mohammed Javed, a Welfare Party of India leader, was arrested and accused of being the mastermind that initiated the riots. The police detained her mother, Parveen, and younger sister Sumaiya for more than thirty hours. They are currently staying with their relatives.

The district officials claimed that the family was issued a notice of destruction last month, citing that their home was built illegally. Fatima said they only heard about the demolition after the protest. She claims that the notice was "fabricated" and was an "act of revenge." The property is in her mother's name, but the notice was issued to her father instead.

The Head of the political science department at Ashoka University, Ali Khan Mahmudabad, said that the bulldozer had become a potent symbol of fear for the Muslims. He added, "It's sending a message to anyone who does raise their voice that they will have a very personal cost to pay." "It's not just that you will go to jail, or you will get arrested, but your entire family will suffer."

This isn't the first time the BJP deployed the "bulldozer politics." Earlier this year, in April, many Muslim families' homes and shops were destroyed in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Delhi, the national capital.

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